The Shields Ferry is legendary on the Tyne – like its Skipper, Sting look-alike Chris McGuinness, who’s not averse to opening the odd supermarket for extra cash. But passenger numbers have fallen in recent years, forcing ferry manager Carol Timlin to get creative to try to bring in extra money: she’s sold all the tickets for a sing-along cruise down the Tyne. But will ferry staff cope with the busiest day of the year, when the world’s biggest half marathon, the Great North Run, rolls into town?
Huge gas modules are being built at Tyneside’s largest manufacturing yard OGN, but the company faces a challenging future. For the shrunken workforce, including 56 year-old plater Stephen Goicoechea, it’s a worrying time. Many, like him, may have to travel far afield to get work if the yard goes under. Union shop steward Terry Telford is keeping the faith (something he says he has experience of, being a Newcastle United fan).
Meanwhile, students Chris Falconer and Ryan Bird are training to be deck officers at the oldest Marine School in the world based in South Shields. We see them put through their paces in a dramatic simulator assessment in charge of a ship, before the toughest test of all – a verbal grilling in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency oral exams. And former tug-master turned lecturer at the School, Tommy Proctor organises the annual rowing race on the Tyne.
Watch the hour-long documentary Sea Cities – Tyneside on BBC Two this Friday 5th January at 7pm on BBC Two (and on bbc iplayer).